The Instagram algorithm, turning on notifications, and why we should just calm down.


Unless you live in a in a small social-free cave or nuclear bunker, you’re probably aware of the upcoming changes to our favourite image-based platform Instagram. And no, it hasn’t already happened. Let’s all take a deep breath and calm down!

So let’s make this simple. Basically, Instagram is changing its algorithm which will change the way your Insta-feed works forever. Instead of the chronological clock of #foodporn breakfasts, midday #fitspiration workouts, and reminiscent evening #beautiful lifestyle snaps we’re all used to seeing everyday, it will be the most popular posts that pop up first.

Social platforms are constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve, better their users’ experience, and ultimately prove themselves as purely a ‘user-driven’ platform. Enter the Instagram Algorithm. Instead of showing us time-ordered posts we’ve become accustomed to over the last 6 years (I’m not bitter at all!), it’ll show us the posts they think we’ll want to see best. And how are they working that out, I hear you ask? Well, the calculations are pretty clever actually, based on a number of factors such as likes, searches, and your Instagram relationship with the person who’s posting.

It was announced at the beginning of the month, and yes we can confirm, it is really happening. Insatgram are currently in the testing phase, but I doubt it’ll be too long before the update rolls out everywhere and the internet, and all of those unprepared for the change, break down again!

Everyone’s intrigued about how it will affect them, whether they’re an individual user, small brand or big brand. So here’s a snapshot of how the change could affect you.

What will it mean for us as users?

It’s going to be a big change for users, but supposedly a change for the better. We miss 70% of updates anyway, so it’s Instagram’s way to making sure the 30% we do see, is the best 30%!
If you’ve been on Instagram over the last few days, you’re likely to have seen all the ‘Turn on Notifications’ posts from celebrities and TV personalities. This is to prevent followers from missing all their updates, but in actual fact, it’s probably going to annoy everyone. Imagine someone shouting in your face before they post anything, after a while it’s going to get annoying.
Unfortunately, it’s likely we’ll miss updates from our friends: the main purpose Instagram was created. It’s a real shame. Now you’re going to have to really invest some serious scrolling time to find your mate’s travelling pics, or a beautiful baking creations from that sweet-toothed friend. The whole idea of sharing images is no longer so easy, it’s more of a fight for popularity than anything else.
(A big shout-out for our live-in model a.k.a Jack our Content Exec!)

How will it affect brands?

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It took a while for brands to realise that Instagram was the way forward in reaching their desired audience, especially when it comes to millennials. By now most brands (big and small) have jumped on board, and if we follow them, they all have equal space on our newsfeeds. However with the new algorithm creating a hierarchy of the most popular profiles, big brands are sure to dominate our feeds. Being able to gain more likes rapidly, big brands’ usage of Instagram is set to soar. As much as I hate to say it, I think it’s safe to say “RIP small brand organic Instagram posts”. The algorithm will essentially cap organic reach: a once free, democratising marketing tool is now going to cost small businesses a lot of money.

But do not fear, it’s not all doom and gloom for users and small brands. The algorithm will force brands to try harder to grab our attention: boosting creativity, producing better content, encouraging more dynamic targeting, and creating sharp copy. And if brands are going to all this effort, surely the content will be more worth a look?
We’re still going to see all the latest posts from our friends and celebrities, just in a slightly different order. Let’s put it into perspective, remember when you first joined Facebook? The layout was completely different to how it is now. At every update we freak out, refuse to like it, and then before we know it, hardly remember using the old dated layout, let alone mourn over it.
We love Instagram as it is, but it’s likely the update may make it better, who knows only time will tell. For now all we can do is simply get a bit more savvy with our posting and dream of the day Instagram follows Facebook with an opt in or out feature (just a little suggestion). Not so snap happy with social? Get in touch, we’d be more than happy to help.

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